Varicose Vein Therapy

Varicose Vein Therapy

Varicose veins are swollen, painful veins that have filled with blood. They usually develop in the legs.

  • Normally, valves in your veins keep your blood flowing forward, so the blood does not collect in one place.
  • The valves in varicose veins are either damaged or missing. This causes the veins to become filled with blood, especially when you are standing.

Vein stripping is usually done when a large vein in the leg called the superficial saphenous vein is thick and rope-like.

Besides cosmetic problems, varicose veins are often painful, especially when standing or walking. They often itch, and scratching them can cause ulcers. Serious complications are rare. Non-surgical treatments include sclerotherapy, elastic stockings, elevating the legs, and exercise. The traditional surgical treatment has been vein stripping to remove the affected veins. Newer, less invasive treatments which seal the main leaking vein on the thigh are available. Alternative techniques, such as ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy, radiofrequency ablation and endovenous laser treatment, are available as well.

  • Sclerotherapy
    This form of treatment is a non-surgical procedure in which a solution is injected into the problem varicose veins or spider veins in order to cause its disappearance.
  • Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT)
    EVLT works by heating the inside of the vein, which causes it to seal shut and disappear. This treatment requires that a very thin laser fiber be inserted into the damaged underlying vein.   
  • Radiofrequency Occlusion also known as VNUS
    This method treats the vein by heating them, causing the vein to contract and then close.   
  • Laser and Pulsed Light Treatments
    This form of vein therapy involves a light beam that is pulsed onto the veins in order to seal them off, causing them to dissolve. Successful light-based treatment requires adequate heating of the veins. Several treatments are usually needed for optimal results.  
  • Ambulatory Phlebectomy
    This procedure involves making tiny punctures or incisions through which the varicose veins are removed. The incisions are so small no stitches are required.  
  • Transilluminated Powered Phlebectomy (TIPP)
    The TIPP treatment is a minimally invasive procedure for removing varicose veins that is performed using the TriVex® System. Transillumination is a unique feature - much like a flashlight placed under the skin - that allows a surgeon to see, accurately target and remove varicose veins, then visually confirm the extraction.  
  • Vein Ligation
    During this type of vein surgery, incisions are made over the problem vein and the vein is tied off. This is done in order to cut off the flow of blood to the varicose vein, which in turn causes it to become less visible.
  • Vein Stripping
    Vein stripping involves tying off of the upper end of a problem vein and then removing the vein.  

Before the Procedure

Always tell your doctor or nurse:

  • If you are or could be pregnant
  • What drugs you are taking; even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription
  • If you have been drinking a lot of alcohol (more than 1 or 2 drinks a day)

During the days before your surgery:

  • You may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), warfarin (Coumadin), and any other drugs that make it hard for your blood to clot.
  • Ask your doctor which medications you should still take on the day of your surgery.
  • If you smoke, try to stop. Your doctor or nurse can help. Smoking will slow your healing and recovery.

On the day of your surgery:

  • You will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything for at least 6 - 8 hours before surgery.
  • Take your prescribed medications with a small sip of water.

After the Procedure

Your legs will be wrapped with bandages to control swelling and bleeding for 3 - 5 days after surgery. You may need to keep them wrapped for several weeks.

When you are resting, try to keep your legs raised higher than the level of your heart. Place pillows or blankets under your legs to raise them up.

You may also wear compression stockings. These help improve blood flow. It is very important to keep your bandages and compression stockings on until all the surgical cuts have healed. Your doctor will tell you when you no longer need them. To prevent varicose veins from coming back, you may have to wear compression stockings for a long time.

Take at least 10 to 12 short walks a day, for 5 to 10 minutes each. Do not sit or stand in one place for too long.
You will probably be able to return to your normal routine in 2 weeks. However, you should not do strenuous physical activity for 3 to 6 weeks. You should be able to shower 2 days after surgery.

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